Hamil­ton’s Mercedes team held up at gun­point

The Sunday Guardian - - The Big Story -

Lewis Hamil­ton has con­firmed that mem­bers of his world­cham­pi­onship win­ning Mercedes team were robbed at gun­point on the eve of the Brazil­ian Grand Prix.

A minibus, trans­port­ing Mercedes staff back to their team ho­tel from the In­ter­la­gos cir­cuit, was held up at 10pm lo­cal time. One of the team had a gun held to their head, Hamil­ton said.

«One minibus was robbed at gun­point,» Mercedes said. «Valu­ables were stolen but ev­ery­body is safe and un­in­jured which is the main thing.»

Jen­son But­ton was am­bushed by gun­men when he left the same track back in 2010.

Hamil­ton tweeted on Satur­day morn­ing: «Some of my team were held up at gun­point last night leav­ing the cir­cuit here in Brazil. Gun shots fired, gun held at ones head. This is so up­set­ting to hear. Please say a prayer for my guys who are here as pro­fes­sion­als to­day even if shaken.»

Me­chan­ics and other staff travel to and from the track by minibus and are ad­vised against wear­ing branded team cloth­ing away from the cir­cuit.

Staff from the Bri­tish-based Wil­liams› team had a nar­row es­cape af­ter a van was held up in front of their minibus as they left the cir­cuit. The team con­firmed it had wit­nessed a van be­ing tar­geted at gun point ahead of them, but they were able to get away. Mean­while per­son­nel from the FIA, the sport›s gov­ern­ing body, were also caught up in a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent, but es­caped un­harmed.

Hamil­ton added: «This hap­pens ev­ery sin­gle year here. F1 and the teams need to do more, there›s no ex­cuse!»

The har­row­ing in­ci­dents - which are likely to raise se­cu­rity con­cerns ahead of Sun­day›s race - mark the sec­ond time in a little more than 12 months a Mercedes› staff mem­ber has been robbed at gun point.

Last year in Mex­ico, a team mem­ber, trav­el­ling in a chauf­feur­driven ve­hi­cle from Mex­ico City Air­port to a ho­tel, was tar­geted by two gun­men. The mem­ber of the Mercedes team and driver were un­hurt in the ordeal.

But­ton was threat­ened by gun­men in Sao Paulo ahead of the 2010 Brazil­ian Grand Prix. But­ton, then the reign­ing world cham­pion, was re­turn­ing to his ho­tel fol­low­ing qual­i­fy­ing when his ve­hi­cle was ap­proached by at least three men bran­dish­ing ma­chine guns.

But­ton, who was trav­el­ling with his late fa­ther John, trainer Mike Col­lier and man­ager Richard God­dard, man­aged to flee the scene un­harmed in the in­ci­dent. Three Sauber en­gi­neers were robbed at gun­point on the same evening. They were also un­hurt.

Mercedes have won both of this year’s cham­pi­onships for the fourth year in a row with Hamil­ton ar­riv­ing in Brazil as a four­time world cham­pion. Sun­day’s race is the penul­ti­mate round of the sea­son. THE IN­DE­PEN­DENT

Lewis Hamil­ton.

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